CountDown : Start of Journey

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Chapter 5 – Come Back

For now, they both were staying together and were helping others with the arrangement of marriage. After 3 days, Kashis sir sent them a mail containing all the information.

Ahmad was a Bangladeshi refugee. He came to India during the April 2001 war between India and Bangladesh. For a very long time, he stayed in West Bengal. In 2009, he got a job in a café on the IIT Roorkee campus. And then, after a few months, he migrated to Dubai with a fake passport and visa. There, he met someone and started to work as a spy. During 2009, 2010, and 2011, he created many fake ids for visiting Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and many other Arab countries. In these 3 years, he was mainly spying on Sanjay Bansal. Mr Bansal was the owner and CEO of Bansal Tech. But in 2021, he sold his company to Hema Misri. Since then, the company was suffering from huge losses. There was a rumor in the market that in 2023 they were going to launch a new smartphone which would bring them back into the business. As of then, they were working on that smartphone. Ahmad didn’t share any personal information about Sanjay Bansal. He knew many things about him, and probably the information which he had was the reason Mr Bansal sold his company. Currently, no one knew where Mr Bansal was. One odd thing was that the company name never changed; it was still ‘Bansal Tech’.

Both were confused after reading this. But one thing was for sure: Hema Misri was somehow connected to those three. To find the relation, they planned to visit Kashmir valley, the terrorists’ native place. Probably there they could get some related information.

******

January 6 2023

Kashmir Valley

They reached Kashmir valley, and while Samprit was frustrated for getting no information, Radhika was excited to explore Kashmir Valley. They spent almost a week getting some information, but they got nothing. After a week, they started to visit nearby small villages to find something useful. After visiting around 3 villages, they came to know that there was a village called Kokernag. It was around 100km from the valley. In 1990, when many Pandits started to migrate to different places from the Valley, a few found shelter in Kokernag. Since the place was very densely populated, it was easy to hide. Gradually, people came to know about them, and by 2001, many Hindus in that area were killed. Somehow, a few escaped from there. They could get the information there if they wanted. They planned to visit the village the next day, as no bus was available on the same day.

******

January 22 2023

Kokernag village

They caught the bus during dawn. It was the first bus to depart. The route to the village was like a route to heaven. While Radhika was clicking photos, Samprit was, again and again, reading the letter to get any clue possible to help them. It took around 5 hours to reach the village. It was a soul-warming journey for Radhika, but Samprit never glanced outside during the journey, as he was constantly reading the letter. They settled in a cottage, freshened up, and started their investigation. During the visit to the orphanage, they took along a childhood photo of the three suspected terrorists. They were showing those photos to villagers to find someone who can recognize them. A lady of around 50 recognized them. She was not fully sure that they were the same.

She told them that in the year 1990, when many Pandits started to escape from Kashmir, few of them got shelter here. The families of these children were one of the few. These children belonged to two families, Safaya and Misri. The girl’s name was Pusti Safaya. She was of around a year old in 1990. The boys are Samir Misri and Sahid Misri... Samir was of the same age as Pusti, while Sahid was not born at that time. For a few years, both families lived here, hiding their identities. But during 1999, the identity of many Pandits were revealed. From 1999 to 2002, many Pandits were killed, whereas some managed to escape. In 2001, both families were killed, but these children somehow manage to escape. Since then, I never saw them again.

“But why are you asking about them, after so many years? Who are you and what do you want from them?” asked the old lady.

“It’s a long story, ma’am. But how do you know everything about them so accurately, even after so many years?” asked Radhika? “I was a teen during that time, and I fell in love with someone close to them. He uses to share their stories with me, and I lost him in 2000 during these attacks. Since I am local here, no one killed me, but many used me during that time.” Samprit held her hand and replied “Sorry” very firmly and said, “I think we should leave for now.”

Saying that, they left to find shelter for the night. But after a few steps, they decided to track that lady. Maybe they could find out something more useful from her. They followed her to her house and then returned. They stayed in a cottage for that night and decided to discuss more with that lady the next day.

******

January 23 2023

Kokernag village

Old Lady’s house

They left for the old lady house early in the morning. Samprit greeted the old lady and apologized for disturbing her again, but there were a few questions he needed to ask her. The old lady put forth the condition that if only they answered her questions would she answer theirs. Radhika agreed and asked her to carry on. The old lady again asked them who they were and what they were up to. She replied that they both were government officials with proof that these three had links with terrorist attacks, and they were planning something big in the future. To stop them, they needed to find their motive and plan. The old lady was shocked on hearing this. She replied that Hima Safaya, mother of Pusti Safaya, had a younger brother. When they were finding shelter in the village, she was the one who helped them. Her father was an army officer, because of which he was mostly out of the station. They owned a grass roof house nearby their permanent house. She told them to stay there for few days. Both the Safaya and Misri families were staying there. The old lady used to visit them daily. Gradually, she started to feel something special for Hema’s younger brother. After some time, when things were getting normal, both families took the house on rent with a false identity. They started to work as laborers, and Sahid, Samir and Pusti started to visit a local school. The relationship between the lady and the Misri brother was getting more serious. We started to get physical. In 1998, Samir saw us having intercourse. He was 10, but he understood everything. That very night, he visited me and asked me to have intercourse with him or else he will tell everyone else what he saw earlier. I thought that as he was a child, he won’t do such a thing. I kissed on his forehead and told him to leave. But the next day he told everything to both families. They were not angry with me, but they refused to acknowledge our relation as they were Hindu and I was Muslim. They didn’t care about faith when they needed help, but when it was about marriage they thought about it. I was pissed. I was the one who leaked the information that Hindu Pandits were staying in the village. I was the one who got them killed, but I don’t know how all three children escaped before that.

There was silence for few minutes after this. Radhika and Samprit didn’t know what to say next--whether to ask her questions or give her moral support.

After a pause, Radhika broke the silence by asking, “And you never tried to find where they went to get revenge from Samir?” The lady replied that for few months she tried to find him, but in 2003, he came back.

“He started to use me as a toy. He was just fifteen, and still I was not able to do anything. For 6 years, he played with me, and later, in 2009, he brought another man named Asraf. She told that he was Bengali.”

It created doubt in Samprit and Radhika’s minds, and they showed a photo of Ahmad to her and asked if this was the same guy. She recognized him and replied yes. They told her that his name was Ahmad, and not Asraf, but she denided it and told them that his name was Asraf. For 3 years, he was staying with her. Samprit instantly replied that he used to visit Dubai regularly during these years.

She replied, “He used to book tickets for different Arab countries, but he never visited there. Even he used to bring a man from Delhi to provide him escort services. Many girls in this village were used by them. I am not alone. But finally, in 2013, we got free from those animals. But there was one more thing. Till 2012, Asraf use to bring the man, but later, Samir and Sahid started to bring the man. And for so many years, only one man visited, and no other man was brought by them.”

Samprit showed her the photo of Sanjay Bansal and asked her if this was the man they use to bring here. The old lady nodded. Radhika asked her what happen in 2013 that they stopped bringing the man. She told that in April 2013 when both Samir and Sahid visited along with that man. They stayed here for about a week, but later, when returning, something happened between them. Sahid was accusing that man, and the man left on the same day, but both brothers stayed here for two more days. They torched the girls, and after that, they never returned. No one knows what happened inside the room, but whatever happened, it freed all the women of this village from a curse.

Samprit asked Radhika that the lady had said earlier that Hima was the name of Pusti’s mother. And as per Kashis sir’s information, Bansal tech was now sold to Hema Misri, which meant the name of Pusti’s mother and surname of brothers. As per sir’s information, the company was going to launch a new smartphone this year, and as per Samir’s letter, he warned something big will take place on November 12, 2023. Maybe it was something related to this smartphone launch. They needed to act accordingly. They went back to Delhi to report everything to Y.S. Goyal.

******

January 26 2023

RAW Headquarters, Delhi

Goyal asked, “Samprit, are you sure that old lady you met was telling the truth?”

Samprit replied, “Sir, we cross verified the information about the other girls and women who were used by Sahid and Samir.”

“So, What will be your next move.”

“We tried to gather information about Bansal Tech’s proposal to launch a new smartphone. It’s going to be launched in November as a Diwali offer. We are damn sure that there is something wrong with the smartphone. Currently, it is manufactured in Ecuador, South America.”

“So you both are planning to visit Ecuador.”

“Not really. Radhika doesn’t want to.”

“So then?”

“I have a suggestion, sir. If possible, send Raj and Anand.”

“I can, but don’t you wanna solve this case?”

“I have no other choice. Radhika shared everything with mom, and she doesn’t want to send me out of the country until the marriage.”

“So, should I assign another small mission to you, or are you happy with the desk job?”

“For now, I am better at a desk job. Until this case is not closed, I don’t think I can go for another case.”

“Very well then. I will talk with Raj and Anand.”

Later, Goyal talked to Raj and Anand, and they planned to visit Ecuador in mid-February, stay there for a month or two, collect the information, and then leave.

Samprit was in contact with them each day. But during the investigation, they found nothing. Since it was private property, they were not allowed to enter; still they collected information, but nothing was suspicious. It was just a normal smartphone production house. Around 10 lakh smartphones needed to be manufactured before September 2023 and to be sent to China, from there they would arrive in the Indian market during November 2023.

They found nothing much and came back at the end of March. It was not good for them, but they needed to move on to the next mission, as there were many other cases. For a few months, everything was silent. Even Samprit was of from the case, as there were no leads or clues to take action. Everything they knew, for now, was that something was wrong with the smartphone. So they thought that somehow they would stop the sale of the smartphone when it will be launched, except that there was nothing they could do for now. It was a smart move from their side, as they planned to manufacture smartphones out of the country.

Gradually, Samprit and Radhika got busy with their desk work and arrangement of marriage, and others also started to solve other cases. Still, Samprit was not able to completely put aside the case, so he asked Radhika if they could go to Ecuador after marriage as a honeymoon trip, as it would help them to get a lead in the case. She was not happy with his idea but she agreed for his happiness. After this much time, she was frustrated with the case and she got fed up with his obsession towards the case too. Maybe going to Ecuador could help them to close the case.

******

September 14, 2023

Sodhi Niwas

Arrangement of the wedding was done, a lot of guests were present on the occasion, and a room was full of gifts, jewelry, sweets, and many more things. It was a great day for the Sodhi family and their relatives. Gurmit Sodhi was chatting with her relatives.

“Finally, Samprit will be a married man,” said one of the relatives.

Children enjoyed food and dance, while elders were enjoying drinks and were chatting. One could hear chit chat from every corner of the house. The backyard was wonderfully decorated, and a mandap was installed along with a stage. Photo sessions and other wedding rituals were taking place. Everyone had a smile on their face. But there was something Goyal was hiding. Samprit got a doubt and asked him what was wrong, but he didn’t share anything.

At around 1 in the night, everything was completed. It was late, so most of the local relatives started to return home, while some slept there and left the following day.

Everything was completed, and Samprit was now excited to leave for Ecuador. They arranged the ticket for September 18 for Ecuador. It was an investigation trip, but was shown as a honeymoon trip.

September 18, 2023

Indira Gandhi International Airport

Radhika asked, “Samprit, are you sure you want to go to Ecuador to investigate the case? I mean, Raj and Anand visited there but were unable to get anything. It would be waste of time for us too. I mean we should focus here. We should arrange things to cancel the sale of their smartphone in India.”

Samprit replied, “We can’t do that. The sale of the smartphone is done as per the international market. We can’t deny them selling the smartphone in the Indian market without any reason. Moreover, they are going to launch the same smartphone in China first, and then it will be launched in the Indian market.”

“I understand that, but…”

“There’s no harm in visiting Ecuador. If we don’t get any lead, at least we will enjoy a holiday trip.”

“We will not, because your full concentration will be on the case.”

“I promise that I will enjoy the trip with you, and solving the case will be my second priority.”

While having this conversation they settled in the plane. It was a business class ticket arranged by Pradeep. It was a luxury journey, and they felt very pleased during the flight. Since there was no direct flight, it took more than 32 hours to reach Quito. It was midnight when they reach Quito. A taxi was already booked, which dropped them at their hotel. They went to their room and just fell into the bed. They spent the day in the hotel. They planned to start the trip the other day. As it was a long journey, they didn’t feel good about starting the trip from the same day itself. As per the information, many dealers were trying to make a deal with Bansal Tech in Quito, but no one was getting the deal. Samprit asked Jatin to create a fake ID for him as a telecom dealer. Since it took 2 days for Jatin to create a proper fake identity for Samprit, they enjoyed sightseeing in Quito during that time. Later, on the 3rd day, Samprit asked Radhika to provide him a day for investigation as he had got his dealer ID and appointment for that day. Radhika agreed, as she didn’t have any other choice.

Samprit went to the company. He had a fake ID, but he didn’t know how the actual deal worked. He tried his best. He saw Pusti in the company. He was now sure that the launch of this smartphone in India was related to the attack of 12 November 2023. But he didn’t have any proof. He had earlier attached a camera to his t-shirt button. He was recording everything, but he got nothing that can stop the launch of the smartphone in India. The production of the smartphone had nothing wrong. Since he was not there to get a deal, he was not bothered about the deal. He didn’t meet anyone and left before anyone suspected him. But while leaving, Pusti saw him, and started to follow him. He somehow managed to trick her and escape from there. He straight went to the hotel and told Radhika to pack the bag. They were now done with Quito and were now moving to Costa Rica. They would enjoy their honeymoon there. Radhika was sure that someone noticed him; hence, they were leaving from there, even though, as per the plan, they were going to leave Quito the next day. They checked out from the hotel and left.

They enjoyed their trip to Costa Rica for 3 days without thinking about the attack, since the only option left was to eliminate the sale of smartphones in India. It was a chilling trip for both of them. The return ticket was for September 27.

******

27 September 2023

Coffee Shop at San Jose Juan Airport

Both were enjoying their coffee as they had time for the flight. A man came nearby and asked, “Can I have a seat?”

To which Samprit replied that there wasn’t a vacant seat. The man still grabbed a seat. ”

“What is this behaviour?” yelled Radhika.

“I am Samir, the man you are looking for.”

Samprit said, “I am not looking for any Samir. We are here to have a vacation, and you are interrupting us, so, please leave.”

“What if I told you I am the one who sent you the letter? I am the one who killed millionaires on the cruise. And I am the one who will attack on 12 November 2023.”

Samprit grabbed his collar and warned him. Everyone started to stare at them. A waiter immediately came there and told them to leave. Samprit paid the bill and walked along with the man.

The man said, “Cool down, Samprit, you know I am the culprit, but they all don’t; for them, I am an innocent man. Even you don’t have sufficient proof to prove me guilty in India. So, listen to me. Yeah, the launch of the smartphone in India is a key to my attack on India on 12th November, and you can’t do anything to stop them. I will launch the smartphone in other countries before India, which will give me a clear entry to enter the Indian market. Even Bansal Tech has a history in Indian markets, so there’s nothing you can do. Want to know more about this smartphone? They have a chip installed inside, which triggers the bomb installed in the smartphone. The chip is controlled by me, and I can blast the phone whenever I want. Do whatever you can to stop me, but you will fail again.”

“Why, you rascal, I will kill you here and end the case. I will manage to escape from here.”

“My name is Samir, Samprit. You can’t do anything to me.”

“Want to know what I can do?”

He grabbed him by the neck and tried to chock him. Samir defended himself and started to run. Cops saw these and started to follow them. Samprit was chasing him to kill him. He reached the exit, where a car was waiting for him. He escaped in the car. Cops arrested Samprit for the nuisance. He and Radhika showed the police their RAW ID and got free. He called Goyal and told everything. He told that they were on their way back, and till, then he must try to stop the sale.

******

29 September 2023

RAW Headquarters, Delhi

In the office of Y.S Goyal

Samprit asked, “Sir, how was your meeting with the Foreign Direct Investment Department?”

Goyal replied, “I tried to convince them, but they are correct in saying that they can’t cancel a launch of a company without any valid reason. They have checked the smartphone as per their policy. Even if we are justified, we need to have solid evidence to stop them. Without them, it’s not possible.”

“Sir, what if I have an audio of Samir saying himself that the launch of the smartphone in India is related to the coming attack on 12th November?”

“You recorded your conversation with him?”

“Yes, it was the only thing I could do there.”

“It can help us stop the launch.”

A meeting was arranged between the RAW team and the telecom minister and other tech giants to put the point thoroughly. Everything was discussed properly in the meeting, where few accepted the cancellation of the smartphone launch while few others didn’t. After a vote, it was decided that the launch should be cancelled for the safety of the people of the country. Samprit and the other officers were happy that they had stopped the attack, even though culprits were still left to be caught. They could now relax for some time and concentrate on catching the culprit. Even though the launch was cancelled, Samprit was sure they would try to do something. They wouldn’t let go of their mission. As per the letter, the date was close. Around 40 days were remaining, and now they don’t know what will be the next move from their side. Gradually the days passed, and it was the attack day.

******

November 12, 2023

Since it was Diwali, most people were home. Raj and Anand were in Italy for a mission. While others were on leave.

The doorbell of Goyal’s house rang. He was alone in his house. He saw through the peephole.

It was a girl he didn’t recognize, so he asked her through the door phone, “Who are you?”

“Please open the door, I will tell you everything, let me enter the house,” she replied.

He opened the door, thinking that she needed help.

As soon as he opened the door, he saw she was pointing the gun at him.

“I am Pusti Safaya. I am here to share something with you. If you cooperate, I won’t use this toy, but if you don’t, I will,” she threatened.

“I have seen her photo. Your look different.”

“Oh sorry, ” she said while removing mask.

While this Goyal made his move and took the gun from her, saying, “Child, you have just started to play with this(showing the gun in his hand), whereas I have played enough, and now I am training others to play with it. I won’t use it, though. I will listen to you, so, say whatever you want to say, I will decide later about using this.”

They settled on the sofa in the living room.

Pusti said, “You all think that you have successfully stopped the attack but you all are wrong. We knew that somehow you and your team will stop the launch of the smartphone. We were working according to that. We never planned to launch the smartphone. It was just an ambush for you all, and you fell for it. When Raj and Anand visited Ecuador, we had an eye on them. It was our man who told them that after manufacturing in Ecuador, the product will be shipped to China, and from there it will be launched in the Indian market. Everything was right till the shipment to China. But the thing was that the original product needed to be sent to India was already sent to China, and after a few days, to India. The batch they saw was for the launch in other countries.

“Now, you may think about what we did by bringing smartphones to India. Nobody bought them, as there was no launch. I am telling you, people here are way too greedy. Personally I feel only educated people should be allowed to join politics. Rowdy political leaders are very helpful for people like us. For election purposes, these leaders trick people to cast their vote to them. Recently a politican bought cheap smartphones and distributed them in public, those where our smartphones. Now the issue was that since we were not targeting those poor people, we gave them money and told them to put the smartphone at a location where we wanted a blast to occur. We didn’t visit the people personally. We put a pop-up notification on the smartphone that instructed them to drop that smartphone at that location and get an amount credited to their account, and if they tried to pick the phone back up, the amount would be deducted again. Many tried to pick the phone back up, and as per the deal, we deducted the money back. So they dropped the phone back at the location. It was fun to play with them. Now the thing is the locations that we chose. You will get to know about them once the blast takes place. The blast will occur at sharp 11:59 pm. Till then, I will stay right here.

Goyal asked, “What if I shoot you here and end this?”

“You can’t. Look back.”

Samir and Sahid were standing there with shotguns in their hand pointed towards Goyal.

Pusti said, “Maybe you are training others to play with this toy, but here, we are the ones who will play with you.”

Samir added, “You know what, let us play hide and seek. We will leave now from here. You call all your contacts and try to catch us and simultaneously think how to stop this blast.”

Sahid commented, “It seriously sounds fun.”

They escaped from there, locking Goyal inside the house. He immediately contacted the police force and Samprit. Check posts were installed at every corner of the street. Checking of every vehicle was done. The news channel started to show the pictures of all three and requested the public that if anyone saw them, they were to immediately contact the police or call on the number provided. The one who would provide correct information would be rewarded. A photo of the smartphone was also shown on the news, and people were requested that if they were to see it, they were to please deposit the phone at the nearest police station. Most of the people never saw the news at that time, as most they were enjoying Diwali. But by nightfall, the news had spread like a fire. Everyone was afraid of the news. No one knew what would happen from this smartphone and why the authorities were asking to deposit the smartphone at the nearest police station.

Many smartphones were deposited to police stations all over India. But the issue was that the RAW team didn’t know how many smartphones were present. The phones were checked by a bomb dismantling officer, but they got nothing. Police officers were frightened what if this phone were to explode in the station. It was a very critical situation all over the country. Even foreign news channels started to show the news. All over the world, people were curious about what will happen next. Only Samprit and Goyal knew that the bomb would explode at 11:59 pm.

******

November 13, 2023

A news reporter was speaking, “Exactly at 11:59 pm yesterday, more than a 1000 bomb blasts took place all over India. As per the expert, the smartphone which was told to be deposited at a nearby police station exploded at a different location, but few technicians are not accepting this, as the phone that was deposited at the police station didn’t explode. They say that smartphones were an ambush, and bombs were installed at different locations, and they were successful in their plan. Many believe that this attack has been executed by terrorist groups from Pakistan. There is no official statement about the blast, but people want to know the truth, and they want the government to take action against Pakistan for this. It is being reported that around 500 people have died in this blast, and around 2000 people are seriously injured. Let us hope that the culprit is found soon. Stay connected for more news updates.”

Goyal switched off the TV and turned to address Samprit, “Samprit do we have any update about those three?”

Samprit replied “Not till now. God knows how they managed to escape. Every place in Delhi has been searched thoroughly. Every single police officer is on duty, but no update from anyone.”

“They seriously are beyond everyone. I have not met anyone so cunning in my entire life. It’s the first time that a culprit visited my house, warned me, and escaped in front of me. Even now I don’t know what our next move should be.”

“Sir, as per their previous attacks, they, every time, warn us about their next attack. We should head to your house; maybe they have left something for us.”

“Maybe.”

They both left for Goyal’s house.

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